Unbound Edition. Meaningful conversations about brand, from Davis Brand Capital.

Hyundai: Korean for Good Strategy

For the most part, this year’s Super Bowl ads were lackluster at best (Deja vu. I think I wrote the same sentence last year). Bridgestone’s Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head spot was cute and funny if you ignored the misogynistic overtones.  And the Ed McMahon/MC Hammer spot for Cash4Gold.com was simultaneously amusing and terribly depressing.

But perhaps one of the most notable things about this year’s ad slots was what was missing. No Big Three. And Hyundai took advantage.
There wasn’t anything particularly remarkable about the two Hyundai spots for its Genesis luxury model, or its sponsorship of the pre-game show.  But the Korean company’s overall strategy for the Genesis is interesting.

Several years ago Hyundai was the budget brand with quality issues.  An industry-leading 100,000-mile warranty, coupled with tasteful styling, built the brand into a respectable nameplate.  And recent marketing innovations, such as the Hyundai Assurance Program that guarantees Hyundai will buy back consumers’ cars if they lose their jobs after purchasing a new model, are likely to solidify the South Korean underdog’s standing.

Now the Genesis sedan and newly launched coupe are attempting to build an affordable luxury brand for Hyundai in the midst of a crippling recession.  In line with the second Genesis Super Bowl spot , the tagline on the company’s website is “Our condolences to BMW, Mercedes and Lexus.”

Any other time head-to-head comparative advertising from a lower-budget badge taking a swing at the prestige nameplates wouldn’t be all that interesting or compelling.  But in the midst of a crippling recession, it’s a smart move.

The “Trading Up” trend seems all but over, and American’s are rethinking their priorities. Hyundai is striking while the iron is hot and taking advantage of what is likely to be the most significant shift in American consumer culture in decades.  As American’s move back to the middle, Hyundai appears well positioned to greet them.  


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